Thursday, June 15, 2017
NZ/Aotearoa: No vote for the Ruling Class!
An election this year means little to the real power: The international capitalist class. Governments whoever they are simply set the rules by which capitalism runs. In NZ, that is the Health and Education systems, and union rights, etc. The capitalist class has tamed parliamentary parties to its needs; none will deliver meaningfully for the working class. Some cater to the needs of international capitalism more than others (Labour, National), others to local capitalists (Maori Party). Most parties now pretend to be class blind because this serves the ruling class. Yet the Labour party claims to represent the organised working class. And the Mana movement claims to represent Maori workers.
Mana and Maori
The Mana movement is a Maori nationalist movement with some small capitalist influences. However, Mana has a strong record of fighting for working class issues, and on the side of colonised peoples. Mana has made attacks from the left on the Labour party, for Labour’s betrayal of working class needs generally, as well as Labour’s theft of Maori rights to foreshore and seabed resources. The Maori Party on the other hand is the party of the Iwi leadership forum, not Maori workers. It has already exposed itself as an outright capitalist party as supporter of the National lead government. Can we give critical support Mana’s deal with the Maori Party?
Mana has an electoral agreement with the Maori Party. They will not compete in each other’s electorates for the candidate vote. They will campaign for party votes. They will not criticise each other’s policies during the election campaign period.
However, this puts the Mana movement in a dangerous electoral truce with a capitalist party to try to gain seats in the capitalists’ parliament. It's a backward move because it abandons Maori workers and subordinates then to Iwi capitalists. After the election, the Mana movement says the truce is over (with the Maori Party) and everything will be up for negotiation. Mana promises to keep its political independence. But we say do not put any confidence in Mana not to join a popular front with the MP or any other party in an openly capitalist government. We say give a critical vote to Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau but with no illusions that Mana will stick to its promise to represent working class Maori in parliament.
Labour as a Bourgeois Workers Party
Some workers believe that the Labour party promises to deliver more for the working class. Since the Labour party claims the name “labour”. They have a few affiliated unions: MUNZ, E tu, and NZNO, Meat Workers Union. The PSA is legally barred from affiliating with political parties but is inseparable from Labour.
The Labour party has already agreed to working with the Green party and together they released “budget responsibility rules”. These rules show the NZ Labour Party has tied itself to the capitalist system and the Green party. They promised to maintain a surplus (keep the government in profit), reduce government debt, reduce government spending to a 30% of GDP ratio. How will they give the increases needed to catch the health and education systems up to what they were before the National government? No chance because, in the fine print – there will be no change to taxation for the first term of government. They will gather a team of experts to advise them on progressive (fair) tax system. They don’t even have the backbone to suggest taxing the rich now - to pay for what workers need now. So, they are not even promising in the election campaign to do much to deliver what workers need.
Labour has stitched itself to a coalition with the Greens on a capitalist responsibility programme. It is already committing to a popular front that may also in include the openly capitalist NZ First and/or Maori Party in a coalition. They have already got capitalist (the class-blind Green Party) allies who they could blame for their failure to deliver for working class needs. They cannot be given critical support on this basis. Their betrayal of working class “labour” has been revealed before they take the parliamentary leadership. The Labour party in parliament gives crumbs to the union affiliates while working class wages and conditions are run down - including the “social wage” of health and education systems. Labour they have already signed an allegiance to the capitalist class and the Greens through the above agreement. That plan is blatantly capitalist.
Labour could have campaigned to run a minority government, without capitalist plans and without being tied to capitalist parties. Union affiliates, it is over time to split from Labour, as it has already shown it will not deliver what the working class needs not after this election or the 3 years following.
We always called the NZ Labour Party a “bourgeois-workers party”: because in spite of worker membership they have had a capitalist programme. The Labour Party has never challenged to overthrow the capitalist economic system. Labour party sells false hope – that they could deliver what workers need within capitalism. This means they serve to tie workers into capitalism, the parliamentary road does not lead to socialism. The task for revolutionaries then is to break working class from this false hope!
The tactic of Critical Support
In previous elections, we have tactically called for “critical support” for Labour (and in the past New Labour and Mana) – called on working class to put Labour into government – to show it up as failing to deliver for workers. We could say that this tactic broke some unions from Labour, after the 1984-1990 Labour government a number of unions broke (disaffiliated) from Labour. In the absence of revolutionary leadership, the maritime union is now back as Labour’s union affiliates. These unions continue to act as a pathway to suck working class into parliament.
So, in this coming election we do not give critical support for Labour. While it remains a bourgeois workers party, the tactic of critical support cannot work if Labour is tied to openly bourgeois parties - in this case the Greens and/or NZ First in a parliamentary coalition. This is because the rotten bourgeois leadership of Labour can hide behind the excuse that its partners in government stopped it delivering on its campaign promises for workers. Voting for Labour in the certain knowledge that it has already committed itself to forming a popular front with openly bourgeois parties would be to conspire with Labour to hide its class politics from workers. This would be a betrayal of our main strategy to break workers from the labour bureaucracy and from the bourgeois class enemy!
The main strategy is to build the working-class movement independent of parliament, that is our task. It is difficult when the unions are held by their leadership in a relationship with the Labour party and the idea that capitalism can be reformed to meet the needs of workers. Minor reforms in the face of major erosion of working class wages and conditions over the years shows how ineffectual reformism is. But every election year the union leaders say – vote Labour and we could get more of what we need. This takes the power of workers away from united action into a meaningless voting box.
Independent working-class movement
The only reason workers need bother with parliament is to use it as a place to speak and denounce parliamentary democracy as failing to deliver what we really need. We can only organise and take power outside of parliament with elected delegates, with councils of workers to run the towns and communities, strikes to force living wages from employers and occupations and running the businesses under workers control.
· For independent candidates of the working class. Any working-class members of parliament to use the place as a platform to speak and raise revolutionary politics and denounce the ruling class and all their parties!
· For working class candidates to stand against labour candidates in the general electorate seats and Maori seats, other than Te Tai Tokerau where Hone Harawira will be standing for Mana movement! Let’s see unions put up our own candidates in the electorates. Unionised workers are ignored and marginalised under Labour party rules and deals, take the fight outside the party!
· Revolutionary candidates only stand to use parliament as a platform to speak- the power of the working class is not held within parliament. Remember the capitalist class holds power outside parliament in the police and armed forces as strike breakers!
· There is a crisis of leadership of the working class, labour and the trade union leaderships have sold out the fight before we even start: build a workers’ revolutionary party!
· Critical support for the Mana Movement while it stays out of popular fronts!
· No Critical Support for the Labour Party in a popular front coalition with openly capitalist parties!
· No support for the other capitalist parties!
· Build an independent mass working class party capable of standing candidates on a Transitional Program to build workers councils and fight for a Government of the Workers and Oppressed!